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This article was written on 03 Mar 2011, and is filled under To: Saba.

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Discover Saba

Welcome to Saba, a spectacular Dutch Caribbean island just south of St. Maarten. Unlike its more flamboyant neighbor, tourists come to this relatively unknown destination more for its well-preserved natural sites than flashy resorts. Step back in time, and enjoy!


HISTORY OF SABA

The Arawak, Saba’s first inhabitants, established their first encampments around 13 centuries ago. Christopher Columbus discovered Saba in 1493, and in 1632 the island became a Dutch possession. Saba’s rugged landscape made it unfavourable to the slave-based plantations found in most Caribbean islands, and as result, only a very limited number of slaves were brought from Africa to work on the island, often alongside their masters.

Throughout the colonial period the island changed flags multiple times, with the Dutch finally getting the upper hand in 1816. Its main economic activities were sugar, rum, and later fishing and laceworks. Saba was often used as a shelter by pirates, including the notorious Hiram Beakes, who joked that “Dead Men Tell No Tales”. The sea played a major role in Sabans’ lives, and many men became sailors in the U.S. Navy.

With a population of only 1424 souls, Saba feels more like a village than a country, and crime is almost inexistent. Many islanders are descended from Saba’s early settlers, the Hassells, the Johnsons, and the Petersons. Much of the island is covered in jungle, and the hilly terrain is reminiscent of San Francisco. Dutch is the official language, but English is also widely spoken.

SIGHTS

The Bottom is the biggest town in Saba and serves as the residence of the lieutenant governor. Its former name, De Botte, “The Bowl”, refers to its location, a bowl-shaped valley encircled by hills. The town has several interesting sites, including the Wesleyan Holiness Church, a medical school, the gubernatorial mansion, and a landing site sitting at the bottom of a 400-step stairs.

You can take a swim and a sunbath at Cove Bay, a small stretch of rocks and gray sand on the northeast of Saba.

Flat Point is Saba’s only airport and boasts one of the shortest landing strips in the world.

Fort Bay serves as a starting-point for divers and has a small pier to accommodate small boats. Enjoy the panoramic view at Two Deep and Pop’s Place.

Founded in 1987, the Saba National Marine Park is home to a rich marine life and offers a range of activities, including diving, fishing, swimming, and boating.

The town of Hell’s Gate features the Holy Rosary Church, a medieval-looking stone church constructed in 1962, and a center where tourists can buy Saba’s famous lacework. Visitors can also explore the cave in Lower Hell’s Gate.

You can enjoy the breathtaking vista of the Caribbean Sea at Windwardside, Saba’s biggest settlement after The Bottom.

Mt. Scenery is Saba’s biggest draw and is home to a rich variety of plants, such as ferns, mangoes, orchids, ferns, begonias, and elephant ears. You’ll need to be in good shape to climb the 1064 steps to the top.

Built 150 years ago, the Saba Museum houses interesting items on the island’s history.

ACTIVITIES

There is no beach to speak of in Saba. Instead, tourists come to Saba for its excellent dive sites. Snorkeling in Saba is also good.

Climbing the Mt. Scenery and enjoying the magnificent vista at the summit is another highlight.

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